Interesting year for area residents

Paul Briede kneels beside a Cayuga White grape plant in his 2-acre vineyard behind his home in northern Frederick County that will follow biodynamic principles. Rich Cooley/Daily

Whether it was a list of four local doughnuts to try out or a list of what area mayors ate for breakfast, the lifestyle pages in 2014 were full of lively characters, compelling stories and often made you hungry.

Here’s a rundown of our favorite lifestyle stories that ran over the past year:

Sen Soan, 64, of Edinburg, is a fascinating man with an even more fascinating story.

Soan was born in the jungles of Cambodia and fought against the Communists when the Vietnam War broke out. Before the war ended, he was captured and forced into a hard labor camp for two years.

“I never saw myself in a mirror for two years,” he said. “[After] I saw myself, I realized my cheekbones jutting out, my eyes sunk in, my knees so big, I started to get sick.”

Sen Soan of Edinburg uses sandpaper to rub the side of this duck he carved. Rich Cooley/Daily

As the Communist forces celebrated a victory, he risked his life by escaping on a fishing vessel, and eventually made his way to the U.S.

The Wizard of Wikipedia

Dayton Tybois Uphold, 33, has written most of the words on the Wikipedia page for Stephens City, but he hasn’t been paid a dime and his name won’t be found anywhere.

It might seem like a thankless job, but the Stephens City resident of 22 years said the reward has been seeing the page flourish.

In 2010, the page was recognized as a featured article on the front page of Wikipedia.org, a feat only 0.1 percent of articles on the site can boast.

Winchester couple creates Virginia’s first biodynamic vineyard

At the Briede Family Vineyard in northern Winchester, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and artificial chemicals are taboo.

The owners, Paul and Loretta Briede, have embraced the concept of biodynamics, which is that everything a farm needs to sustain itself lies within its own property lines.

The Briedes, who started planting their grapes in April, use a variety of methods to deter mold and pests, from sprays made out of tea to a natural insectiary to attract beneficial insects.

Area commemorates Civil War sesquicentennial

2014 was a banner year for history buffs, as various sites in the Northern Shenandoah Valley hosted special events to honor the 150th anniversary of battles fought during the Valley Campaigns of 1864.

Easily the largest of them all was Middletown’s Battle of Cedar Creek reenactment, which saw more than 5,000 reenactors, 250 cavalry horses and thousands of spectators.

Another battle, the Battle of New Market, was memorialized in a film released this year.

Starring actors Jason Isaacs, Tom Skerritt and David Arquette, “Field of Lost Shoes” began its run in select theaters in September.

Discovery Museum reopens in new location

When the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester moved a couple blocks to a new building this year, its floor space — and number of floors — quadrupled.

The museum has brought back the same familiar favorites as well as a bevy of brand new exhibits for kids and families.

Saveur features local restaurants

An article in Saveur Magazine this October acquainted readers all over the country with two restaurants in the Shenandoah Valley.

The national food magazine featured authentic cuisine from Strasburg’s Hi Neighbor restaurant and The Apple House in Linden.

Picking Virginia’s red wine

Although Viognier is recognized as the official white wine of Virginia, there’s no such title for its red counterpart.

Local grape growers and wine enthusiasts weighed in on which red wine they believed best represents the commonwealth, from Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to Norton.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com